The leave dilemma

The other day, I thought I’d better check when half-term is. It turns out, for us at least, it’s the week beginning 11th February. Which is QUITE SOON.

I’d better book some leave, I thought. Then I looked at my leave. Not so great.

Where I work you have a leave entitlement of 24.5 days a year, which rises to 29.5 after five years’ service (I’m coming up for 14 years’ service – I could have served a whole life sentence and been let out on good behaviour by now). So I would have 29.5 days leave IF I worked full-time.

I don’t, I work part-time. I work 20 hours a week and I am eligible for the VERY PRECISE figure of 117.99 hours of leave.

Yes, that is a 0.99 at the end of that figure. Now, don’t tell anyone, but when I come to take that 0.99 of an hour, I’m actually going to help myself to the remaining 0.01 of an hour. I’m not even going to declare it. I’m just going to take it. It equates to something over 30 seconds. We live dangerously in the public sector.

Most years I’ve actually managed to carry a bit of leave over to the next year – I usually keep a bit back in case the kids are ill. Also, when I only had one or two kids at school, I found my family were more willing to look after them than they are to look after all three. I was also less inclined to take time off in the holidays because I felt I wasn’t being fair to the younger ones by taking days off just to spend time with one or two of the kids. So last year I carried over 22.49 hours, giving me a total leave for the year of 140.48 hours.

Anyway, after three full week-long holidays, plus a few odd days through the various school holidays, a hospital appointment for my son, a violin exam for him, the kids’ birthdays and my husband’s birthday, I’m left with the princely sum of 16.73 hours’ leave to cover February half-term. OK, so it’s not quite enough. But I’m sure my mum and dad, or maybe even my husband, can have them one day.

Now I wonder when Easter is…

Oh my flipping God. Easter only goes and falls in the current leave year. I repeat, EASTER FALLS IN THE CURRENT LEAVE YEAR.

So now I have to share 16.73 hours out between February half-term and the Easter holidays.



Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. This is exactly the kind of thing I’m worrying about when Meg starts school in September. We don’t really have people around who could help us so she’ll have to go to a holiday club if our annual leave doesn’t cover school holidays (which it won’t!) – hope you can find a solution xx

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  2. I sympathise, pre Syd I worked 3 days a week and had to shuffle things around to fit it all in, thank goodness for my mum, at least for now I don’t have to worry for a couple of years, but before I know it I will be dealing with it when Syds at school!

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  3. Thanks very much, ladies. It is a nightmare. When your kids are little you stupidly assume life will be easier when they’re at school. You conveniently forget they are only there six hours a day and they’re not there at all for 13 weeks of the year!
    I’m lucky I have my family around who will always have them for one day a week, usually two days a week, which is a big help. We’ve only resorted to holiday clubs once and it was a nightmare – will try not to do it again!
    The other thing is I actually want to spend time with my kids, it’s not just about finding someone to look after them.

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  4. YESSS! I have a crazy weird number of hours of leave too and I’m forever juggling days around. As z is only 2 yet its not so bad but I’m dreading when he starts school ….gawwwwd!

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  5. Good luck with that – it’s a tough one! I work for my other half, we own the business, but I still feel like I should book my leave and account for any time off I have. The holidays is always a stressful business. Mine hate going to holiday clubs. Do you ever send yours?

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  6. Glad I’m not the only one with a weird number of hours, Tas!
    No doubt I will get my family to help, Laura. We can build up flexi time at work, but of course us parents are always rushing around and never usually there long enough to actually build any up 🙁
    I sent my boys to one last summer, Suzanne and it was a nightmare. I hope I can say never again!

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  7. I’m dreading this. In fact I’m dreading from August covering school holiday for days when my toddler will be at pre-school rather than day nursery. I’m going to have to pay for extra days to cover. Luckily most of the year when he’s older he’ll be able to potter at the farm (I hope) with his dad, but that won’t be possible during the summer harvest. It’s a minefield and a very expensive time to be doing school holiday childcare.

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  8. Whilst I can’t see myself being able to get back into the world of work any time soon, I am dreading this sort of thing when I do.

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  9. Yes, nightmare. When mine were at primary school we coped by swapping favours with another working mum – I would have her children one day a week in the holidays and vice versa. And holiday clubs – we luckily found one that we and they both liked and used that quite extensively. It does get easier once they’re all in secondary school, if that’s any comfort…

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  10. Thanks very much for your comments, everyone, I really appreciate them!
    I don’t think I’d have the patience to be a teachers, Nikki! Strangely I quite like the idea of a TA, although the pay is crap and you have to clear up sick… Maybe not!
    I don’t think anyone would want to swap with me, Clare – three kids is rather a lot! 🙁 I have friends who I know would help me in an emergency, but I usually just rely on family. I have one in secondary school now, but still five years until my daughter is there.

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  11. When I worked in a supermarket, and the world and his wife were all parents I made sure that I booked my holidays for the next year as soon as they were released to ensure holidays were as covered as possible.
    I carried this over when I worked for an Investment bank and got into trouble one year for booking Christmas over a year in advance – they said it wasn’t fair on the other staff, but surely it is first come, first served! Most childcare facilities are closed between Christmas and NY!!

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  12. Good for you! I always book as soon as I know what holidays I’m going on and usually sneak in with the Christmas leave around September before everyone else has thought about it! To be honest, as long as I get Christmas Eve off, I’m not so bothered about the rest of it.

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